Heavy machinery is a major part of the modern economy. The power plants, strip mines, work construction sites, drive agriculture and lift everything from carry-on luggage to homes. They are big and powerful. But, handling heavy machinery comes with its share of risks, and precautions must be taken at all times. While each piece of equipment has its own precautions, there are certain safety tips that apply to all kinds of heavy machinery.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following are the top three causes of jobsite fatalities:
- Runovers or backovers (48%)
- Vehicle collisions (14%)
- People hit or pinned by equipment (14%)
Is it redundant to review safety tips when talking about heavy equipment? Perhaps.
But as the stats above demonstrate, workplace accidents (serious ones) still can and do happen– even to the most experienced equipment operators.
As the operator, you have a duty to make sure that you are operating heavy equipment safely and in a way that does no harm to yourself or anyone else. The following is a list of important safety tips & precautions when operating heavy machinery.
1. Be Mindful Of Your Surroundings
In residential neighborhoods, there are several safety hazards such as overhanging power lines, people and pets walking around, and even oncoming cars. All of these factors may make operating heavy construction equipment on any job site exceedingly challenging.
So when operating heavy machinery, communicate and be aware of who is around you. Don’t count on someone else to notice and move out of the way.
Before using heavy equipment, double-check your surroundings. It’s also important that you keep an eye on yourself. Make sure your route and immediate area are both clear before starting up.
In addition, workers and passersby must be kept out of the zone where heavy equipment is used whenever feasible. To maintain the working environment as safe as possible, operators should be mindful of their swing radius, clearance, and other considerations.
2. Have Comprehensive Training For Operators
Operators should be briefed on all safety protocols for the individual machine before being placed in the driver’s seat for heavy equipment.
The operator must have both classroom and hands-on experience with properly starting the equipment, expecting dangers that might cause the machine to operate in a hazardous manner, and understanding the heavy equipment’s built-in safety features.
Operators should also be aware of the heavy equipment’s load and lift capacities to avoid malfunctioning hydraulic systems or the machine toppling over.
3. Always Inspect Equipment Before & After Using
Qualified people should conduct periodic safety inspections on all equipment components, such as thoroughly examining the steering and braking systems. In addition, the operator should do a pre-shift walk-around check.
Conduct daily inspections with vigilance. At least once a day, make sure to inspect all of the equipment on your inventory. You will want to check oil levels and hydraulic hoses as well.
Hydraulic arms, shovels, and other working pieces should move freely. Furthermore, double-check that all lights, gauges, horns, GPS, backup alarms, and other electronic instruments are in functioning order.
Meanwhile, when you’re through with a piece of equipment, be sure it’s properly switched off and not idle or running. Once you leave machinery running, the last thing you wish is for it to roll away and damage yourself or another worker.
4. Conduct Regular Equipment Repair & Inspection
Standard equipment is expected to wear it down, causing functioning parts to deteriorate slowly. Therefore, each piece of heavy equipment should be inspected before being used. Look for all hydraulic systems, cab controls, lighting, safety features, and tires.
If an operator notices a problem, such as a worn mini excavator track, he should immediately take the machine out of operation. Have a maintenance staff or technicians on-site familiar with replacing a mini excavator track with doing the task effectively.
To complete a project on time, never put defective equipment back into use. Instead, dismantle heavy equipment if components aren’t available or when mechanics can’t fully repair the unit to total operating capacity.
Pushing failing machinery to their limits only raises the risk of a workplace mishap, which might result in a worker’s injury or death.
5. Maintain Communication Channels
Every safety meeting should include a discussion of communication with operators, which the foreman on site should address. In addition, operators should constantly be aware of where all ground-based personnel is, and wearing high-visibility vests will assist them in swiftly locating them.
Heavy machinery operators must be 100 percent confident that the planned movement is safe before proceeding, and the most accessible approach to avoid mishaps is to use spotters.
Each spotter should have a two-way radio to interact with the operator throughout the day, so if your team doesn’t have a two-way radio, they’ll have to communicate with each other via hand signals or signs.
6. Always Wear Your Seatbelt
Seatbelts aren’t just a recommendation; they may save your life. For example, if your machine starts to tip or roll over, you will be strapped in and secured, preventing you from jumping out of the cab.
Many pieces of equipment’s built-in safety features are designed to keep you unharmed in the event of a sudden mishap. In addition, the seatbelt will safeguard you from being thrown out of the cab or getting any further injuries.
7. Know Your Equipment Limitations (As Well as Your Own)
Another essential part of job safety is knowing your limitations. Don’t do something if you do not feel comfortable or safe doing it.
Handling big machinery is risky, and not all scenarios are favorable to you. Don’t drive up a slope or lift specific loads if you’re unsure about something. Being vigilant will enable you to see suspicious circumstances and make the best decisions for you and others on the job site.
Additionally, heavy machinery is built to accomplish specified duties under specific conditions, such as particular lift and carrying capacity, terrain, and weather, among other factors. Therefore, using your equipment above its rated capacity puts the machine and the operator in danger.
A Final Word on Heavy Equipment Safety
Injury incidents using heavy machinery on construction sites are more likely than other accidents to end in serious injury. Therefore, when operating or working on or around heavy equipment, it is vital to follow all of your company’s safety standards and procedures.
Wholesale Industrial Parts also offers services to help you regularly inspect your equipment and heavy machine vehicles. We also have a large selection of material handling components and tires of all sizes in stock. In addition, our parts specialists are committed to providing excellent customer service and obtaining the features you want.